Mercy Fort Smith has received a $150,000 contribution to assist with purchasing critical care equipment for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
The grant – which was given to the non-profit organization through the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program – will launch the hospital’s “Making Babies Healthy” program designed to reduce the number of days infants spend in the NICU.
Mercy Fort Smith operates the only Level III equivalent NICU in the Fort Smith area. Last year, the 25-bed unit provided care to nearly 800 premature and critically ill newborns. In the last three years, 11% of infants admitted to the NICU at Mercy have had either a primary or secondary diagnosis of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) a term for the problems a baby experiences when withdrawing from exposure to narcotics. It’s a significantly higher percentage than the national average of 3-5%.
“Infants with NAS require intensive medical care and an extended stay in the NICU,” said Ryan Gehrig, president of Mercy Hospital Fort Smith, said in a statement. “This grant will allow us to purchase new technology, improve infant nutrition by using donor breast milk and offer educational programs for parents to help us decrease the time babies spend in the NICU and give them better long-term outcomes.”
The grant was presented to Mercy during a check presentation ceremony held today (July 29) in Mercy’s NICU department. During the ceremony, Walmart Store Manager Kelly Clark presented the check to Ryan Gehrig, CEO of Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith.
The hospital will use the grant money towards several pieces of technology including:
• Additional Giraffe Omnibeds to provide infants a totally safe and quiet environment with integrated equipment to monitor vitals;
• I-Stat blood analyzers to allow clinicians to access key results on the spot rather than waiting for results from the lab; and,
• Vapotherm high flow nasal canals to reduce the need for infants to be put on a ventilator.
“The Walmart Foundation is very pleased to be supporting Mercy, and are committed to helping those in need in the communities where we serve,” said Kelly Clark, local Walmart Store Manager. “Through this grant, we are hopeful that residents in the state of Arkansas will find easier access to important technology for newborn children.”
The contribution to Mercy was made possible through the Walmart Foundation’s Arkansas State Giving Program. Through this program, the Walmart Foundation supports organizations that create opportunities so people can live better. The Walmart Foundation State Giving Program strives to award grants that have a long-lasting, positive impact on communities across the U.S.
Last year in Arkansas, Walmart, Sam’s Club locations and the Walmart Foundation awarded more than $72 million to local organizations.
Mercy Fort Smith includes a 365-bed hospital, three critical access hospitals in Paris, Waldron and Ozark as well as Mercy Clinic with more than 100 providers across the region. Mercy employs more than 2,100 co-workers. It is part of St. Louis based Mercy, the nation’s sixth largest Catholic health care organization.